“People are tattered.
Some say, ‘Then let’s make tattered fashionable.’
But God invites us to mend.”
In her new book Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Wounded Soul, author Cynthia Ruchti takes the reader through a gallery of the restored and reclaimed and draws tender parallels between the work of an artist and the work of The Artist. God, she claims, doesn’t just heal; He heals artfully. He creates beauty, purpose, meaning out of our wounding, out of our brokenness, out of our scars. When from our pain-obscured vision we wonder what God is doing, could it be that He is making art? Could it be that He is not “merely replacing faded material or restitching seams” but instead “embroidering a design that [will] forever remind [us] of the story of what [we’ve] been through…and how near he drew”? Ruchti maintains this is exactly what happens – that “brokenness is pre-art” and that “no tattered soul escapes God’s notice”.
In order to open ourselves up to the artistic process of the Creator, Ruchti says that we must “resist the thought that tattered is the new healthy, and instead lean into the process that ends in art”. Fortunately, she mentions several ways we can do this leaning. First and foremost, throughout the pages of the book, she emphasizes the importance of God’s Word, calling it both the threading of the needle that begins healing as well as the Knot that anchors our thoughts & prevents us from coming unraveled in crises. Silent meditation, or listening prayer, is another important component in our surrender – letting Jesus talk and giving mending room to breathe, and being on alert for pockets of silence conducive to soul-restoration. Also important is community – meeting with others who care about us, yes, but also with whom we can loan and borrow strength. Perhaps one of the most crucial elements? Forgiveness. Not only “trusting God to handle an injustice” but also giving up “our front row seats” to the “confrontation between the one who inflicted the injury and the God of justice.”
For someone with ZERO artistic talent, I am surrounded by artists. My husband is an artist and cartoonist, and multiple members of his family are also artists in various mediums. My brother is a photographer and a musician; in fact, he met his wife when they played together in the praise band at church so yeah, she’s a musician too. My paternal grandmother created beautiful afghans and pottery. Even my college roommate was an art major. Me? Well… I appreciate art. 🙂 After reading Tattered and Mended, I have come to appreciate art and artists in an entirely new way. (Be warned, family artists! I may be following you around in the near future, reading passages from this book while you create your masterpieces.) Primarily, I see them now even more as reflections of the Divine Creator who makes beauty out of messes and shards and remnants.
“Nothing provides as fascinating a read as the story of the wounded made whole.”
I very much enjoyed the accounts of art restoration and mending that Cynthia Ruchti writes about in Tattered and Mended – as well as how she compares these methods to the ways God restores our own wounded places. Her commentary on darning eggs (did you have to Google them too?) hit home with me. Our society has become one in which we throw away anything that life wears out – a sock, a pair of jeans, old tennis shoes. Is it any wonder, therefore, that we also are so quick to throw away a marriage, a friendship, a dream, a faith when life rubs holes in them?
My favorite art discussion has to be the Japanese mending practices of sashiko and boro. I’m not going to spoil it for you by going into detail here but oh the bittersweet truth found in these ancient garments. “The mending process isn’t always a comfortable one. But it’s necessary to keep us from falling apart.”
The art discussion I needed the most? The one on quilt restoration. I am currently in the same season the author mentions, a season of weakened threads and pulled seams, of multiple specialists and tests and scans and no diagnosis, of many many home-grown diagnosticians, of being shelved while I wait to be restored. A “chaos of pain” but underneath breathes “an incomprehensible peace”. Her own personal experience acted as a balm for my weary soul and spoke wisdom to me as though we had met for a mentoring session. Reminders for me to write down and ingest: my More-Than-Enough is; “This is hard. So hard. But God is near. So near.”; have intentionally meditative thoughts about God’s Word; don’t focus on each new symptom – stay aware of what the medical community needs to know but “meditate on hope”.
I also loved that the pages of the book are full of Scripture. During my own broken seasons, I have found it helpful to write down Bible verses that resonate with me and carry them around with me. You can get wonderful spiral bound index cards at any supermarket – these are great for this purpose and you can carry them around in your purse and pull them out to meditate on hope while you’re waiting in line or stuck in traffic.
Bottom Line: Cynthia is beautifully tender with the wounded but leaves no room for compromise or excuse. Or for healing without the Healer and His Word. The pages of Tattered and Mended provide encouragement, camaraderie, and hope. Always hope. Refreshing hope in a society that looks increasingly hopeless.
This book will appeal to antiquers and art-appreciators but also to just the average person who like me starts out with a nice pretty skein of yarn and ends up with a tangled web of what was supposed to be a scarf. 🙂
If you are wounded or you care about someone who is, this is also a book you need to read!
Tattered and Mended gets 5 out of 5 stars! Keep reading for a chance to find out how to win your own copy!!
(I received a copy of this book in conjunction with the Litfuse blog tour in exchange for only my honest review.)
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories “hemmed in hope.” She’s the award-winning author of sixteen books and a frequent speaker for women’s ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.
Celebrate the release of Tattered and Mended with Cynthia by entering to win her Reclaimed Treasures giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
- A copy of Tattered and Mended
- A vintage flatware key ring
- A handcrafted “broken china” charm bracelet
- A recycled guitar string bracelet
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 27th. The winner will be announced July 28th on Cynthia’s blog.
Plus, now through mid-July, sign up for Cynthia’s mailing list for a five-day virtual tour around Madeline Island for the chance to win a Hemmed in Hope prize pack. Each day begins with an email from Cynthia that introduces where you’ll be “visiting” that day (all key places from As Waters Gone By) with various interactive elements, including“I wish you were here” postcards, trivia quizzes, and an ongoing Island scavenger hunt. The person who interacts the most will win a Hemmed in Hope prize pack (valued at more than $200).
- The letterpress block Hope sign from DaySpring
- A set of 6 Hemmed in Hope notecards showing a hope-themed Bible verse
- A leather “I can’t unravel, I’m hemmed in hope” journal
- Signed copies of each of Cynthia’s books, fiction and non-fiction